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A week after his appearance at the City Assizes at the Guildhall, Jonathan Martin appeared at the County Assizes at the Castle in York, on Monday 30th March 1829, to face two indictments, one for arson and one for feloniously stealing, to which he pled “not guilty.” His trial began the following morning and Jonathan was delighted by the noise and confusion amongst the excited crowd that filled the court. Jonathan was being tried for his life. Arson was still a capital offence in 1829 and emotions were high regarding his destruction of the Minster. His actions were never in dispute, the outcome hinged on determining whether he was sane or insane.
The following verdict on Jonathan Martin at his trial at the assizes was printed in The General Gaol Delivery of 1829: -
“Not Guilty, but the Jury having found specially that he was insane at the time of the commission of the offence with which he stood charged and having acquitted him on account of such insanity. To be covered and delivered by the Sheriff of the said County to the Sheriffs of the City of York and County of the same City, from whence he was removed to the said County of York (being the next adjoining County thereto) to take his trial for the said offence, and to be kept in strict custody of the Gaol of the same City and County of the same City until His Majesty’s Pleasure shall be known.”
(Christopher John Nested, Deputy Clerk of the Assizes in the said County)
Meanwhile, an appeal was begun to raise funds for the repair of the Minster. Timber and lead salvaged from the fire were sold off and made into countless souvenir items, such as snuff, powder and patch boxes, tea caddies and other similar objects. Each souvenir bore a small metal medal recording the date and place of the fire. The money needed came in quickly, with a large sum raised by a committee of local gentlemen, but the Dean, William Cockburn, was accused of serious financial mismanagement and misappropriation of the funds. When Jonathan Martin was found not guilty of setting fire to the Minster on grounds of insanity, whilst repairs were still being carried out, an angry workman scratched the following inscription on a window:
“York Minster burnt February 2nd 1829 by that Damned Jonathan Martin – he ought to have been hanged but anyhow he got right well damned by the Citizens of York.”